When you stop paying on your mortgage, the lender will start foreclosure proceedings after about three months. Although many homeowners cut their losses and leave, you can challenge the foreclosure on a number of grounds.
Secure Legal Representation
Before you take any other steps, hire a lawyer with experience in foreclosure appeals. State and federal laws govern mortgages, which makes foreclosure appeals a matter that takes place in the court system. Very few laypeople possess the necessary expertise to understand the relevant portions of the law, file the appropriate paperwork and make the proper arguments in court.
Demand the Promissory Note
The bank must prove it has the legal right to foreclose on your home, which means the bank needs to show the original promissory note you signed when you took out the mortgage. As banks make a common practice of selling promissory notes to one another, your bank may not have or even know where to locate the original note. If the bank cannot produce the note, it cannot foreclose on your home.
Demonstrate Predatory Practices
Mortgage lenders often hide features of the mortgage, such as the actual interest rate and the total fees they charge to process the loan. Individual states and the federal government consider these types of misleading behaviors predatory and prohibit them. If you were not provided with complete information or subsequently discovered you were subject to a much higher interest rate than you discussed with your bank, it can serve as the basis for appealing a foreclosure. If the bank officer put in writing the details of the mortgage, including the interest rate and any fees, check the details of the letter against the terms set out in the loan documents.
Like other bureaucracies, mortgage service companies make errors, such as crediting payments to the wrong accounts. They also engage in less savory actions, such as misrepresenting how much you must pay to bring your account current or hitting you with excessive fees. Any of these offer grounds for making a foreclosure appeal. If your lender offers an online payment system, you might be able to track the status of your payments. Or call your lender to check on the status of your payments and how they have been applied.
Avoiding foreclosure is preferable to fighting a foreclosure. A number of programs exist to help homeowners in trouble reduce the size of their mortgage payments or the total they owe on their homes, if they meet the qualifications. If your home value has dropped below what you still owe, the Principle Reduction Alternative provides a path for reducing the size of your mortgage. The Home Affordable Modification Program cuts your payments to a fixed percentage of your income. The Home Affordable Refinance Program helps you refinance to a less costly mortgage if you are current on your payments but cannot secure any other refinancing options.
- TheLaw.com: Challenging Foreclosure and Predatory Lending Practices
- HUD.gov: Avoiding Foreclosure
- Makinghomeaffordable.gov: Principal Reduction Alternative (PRA)
- LegalMatch. "Foreclosure Alternatives." Accessed June 20, 2020.
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "Foreclosure." Accessed June 20, 2020.
- NOLO. "Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs & COAs)." Accessed June 20, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "How Does Foreclosure Work?" Accessed June 21, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Are you at risk of foreclosure and losing your home?" Accessed June 21, 2020.
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "Equity of Redemption." Accessed June 21, 2020.
- FindLaw. "Regaining Ownership After Foreclosure: Statutory Redemption." Accessed June 21, 2020.